Free online courses to help you upskill from home

Build a new skill in your field of choice with online courses from world-class universities and companies.

There are plenty of online courses, certificates, and degrees to help you upskill. Image credit: Deagreez/iStock
There are plenty of online courses, certificates, and degrees to help you upskill. Image credit: Deagreez/iStock

Ready to learn all about that one subject you never got the chance to study? There are tons of world-class courses available online to can help you upskill on your own time. From magic in history to mathematical probability, there’s never been a better time to expand your knowledge base, with all these courses and educational services now completely free.

This is the perfect opportunity to amplify your existing skills and pick up new ones, so when we’re back to business as usual, you’re all set.

Soft skills

Collaborative Working in a Remote Team – FutureLearn

2 hours/week for 2 weeks

With so many of us working remotely right now, skills like communication and self-management are more important than ever, and can also be a little more difficult. This short crash course (no pun intended) will help you stay motivated and productive, even when you’re working from the couch. To your coworkers: you’re welcome.

A Strategic Playbook for Becoming a Principled and Persuasive Negotiator – Coursera

1-5 hours/week for 9 weeks

You don’t need to be in the business sector to benefit from knowing how to negotiate effectively. Whether it’s discussing a promotion with your boss or finding compromise in personal or professional relationships, you’ll learn not just how to get what you want, but how to deal with the emotional aspects of asking for more

Overcoming Public Speaking Anxiety – iTunes

Nine videos ranging from 40 mins to 1 hour

Everyone gets anxious about presenting, and this video course from UC Davis will get you primed and ready to share your ideas with confidence. Beyond techniques to overcome nerves, it also covers how to organize your presentation and use visual aids to communicate as effectively as possible.


Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies – HarvardX

3-5 hours/week for 6 weeks

If you’re waiting for that next great business idea, take a proactive approach and learn how to identify opportunities in growing markets. What’s better, this course focuses on building businesses that actually solve problems for the people living in these markets, not just adding superficial value by introducing a new commercial product.

Completing the project – OpenLearn

8 hours, self-driven

If you see completing a project like crossing a finish line, you could be missing an opportunity for growth. In this course you’ll learn how to evaluate the status of a project, the questions you need to ask before considering it done, and what comes next. OpenLearn also has courses for planning, preparing, and managing projects. 


Charting the Avant Garde: From Romanticism to Utopic Abstraction – Kadenze

13 hours per session, four sessions self-driven

Not your typical art history course, this one is all about the punks of early modern art and how they pushed the boundaries of artistic expression. These are the artists that paved the way for Maurizio Cattelan to tape a banana to the wall.

Classes for getting creative indoors



Skillshare has compiled a list of art courses that will stimulate your mind and even give you some ideas of how to keep your family entertained and artistic. While they have a paid version, a wide variety of their courses are available for free.

Taking an art course with your loved ones can help bring everyone closer together. Image credit: AleksandarNakic/iStock
Taking an art course with your loved ones can help bring everyone closer together. Image credit: AleksandarNakic/iStock

Antiquities Trafficking and Art Crime – FutureLearn

4 hours/week for 3 weeks

Into art and true crime? Welcome to your dream-come-true course. Art appreciation and creation are fantastic, but the culture of the art world deserves just as much exploration. Learn all about its dark side: The causes, methods, and impact of art crime, from the destruction of historical sites to forging masterpieces.

Computer science and programming



More than just a single course, Codecademy teaches the fundamentals of the most popular programming languages as well as lesser known ones. With in-browser coding exercises, you can get hands-on experience and learn the theory and logic behind every programming language.



For the month of April, Pluralsight have made their thousands of courses free. On top of programming courses, you can also learn about other professions related to tech, including data science, security, IT, AI, UX, and a whole bunch of other abbreviations.


Khan Academy


Whether you’re teaching your children, brushing up on what you learned in high school, or into studying algebraic theory, Khan Academy has you covered. Check out their section “Math for fun and glory” for fun exercises and cool real-world applications.

School Yourself


These interactive math courses have a “Choose your own adventure” kind of structure, so your lesson path depends on what you’re most interested in learning. Courses range from simple addition and subtraction to the basics of algebra and calculus, so it’s perfect for beginners.

Fat Chance: Probability from the Ground Up – edX

3-5 hours/week, 7 weeks

Take your skills up a level and learn the logic behind chance. Beginning with basic statistics, you’ll end with a better understanding of the predictive power of math, and how you can apply it to different types of games.

Humanities and social sciences

Magic in the Middle Ages – Coursera

13 hours, self-driven

There may not have been dragons and white walkers in real life, but there were alchemists and accusations of witchcraft. Take a walk back in time and discover where belief in magic stemmed from, the forms it took, and how it declined in the Middle Ages.

Know Thyself – The Value and Limits of Self-Knowledge: The Examined Life – Coursera

13 hours, self-driven

Spending your self-isolation doing some introspection? Before you break out the self-help books and the bullet journal, get to know the historical origins of analyzing the self, and the challenges and opportunities that you’ll face.

PredictionX: Omens, Oracles & Prophecies – HarvardX

3-5 hours, 1 week

This short course is all about attempts to get a glimpse of the future, from ancient oracles to modern computer simulations. Only by understanding the past can we come close to understanding why astrology became so popular again.

Introduction to International Criminal Law – Coursera

6 hours, self-driven

What happens after they catch the bad guy? What about when the bad guy is an international terrorist or genocidal dictator? Welcome to the complex world of international criminal law. You’ll discover the process and challenges of delivering justice at the highest level.


Explore the wonders of space with an online course. Pictured: The Rosette Nebula.. Image credit: blackphobos/iStock
Explore the wonders of space with an online course. Pictured: The Rosette Nebula. Image credit: blackphobos/iStock

Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe – edX

Self-driven, 9 weeks

This course doesn’t promise any answers, but perhaps you’ll be inspired to find them once you’ve explored the biggest questions in astrophysics. Is there life in space? How exactly did the Big Bang happen? You won’t find out, but you’ll have a great time trying.

Exploring Everyday Chemistry – FutureLearn

4 hours/week, 4 weeks

If spending so much time at home has got you asking deeper questions about how it all really works, this is the course for you. This way you can learn some basic chemistry based on what you’ve already got in your kitchen, no Bunsen burners required.

Dino 101: Dinosaur Paleobiology – Coursera

16 hours, self-driven

Let’s be honest with ourselves, that phase of being obsessed with dinosaurs as a kid wasn’t a phase at all. Bring that obsession up to adult level and learn all about how they evolved, lived, and died out.



Smartphone app, self-driven with goal setting

This app is fantastic for increasing your vocabulary in your language of choice. One thing to keep in mind though: It won’t necessarily teach the grammar and logic behind the words, so you may want to combine it with another service.

Open Culture

Check out Open Culture’s list of language-learning resources where you can find not just the usual Spanish, Mandarin, and Russian, but also less common languages like Estonian and Ancient Greek.


Learning American Sign Language will open up a whole new range of communication. You’ll be able to converse easily with those with hearing impairments, and will have an instant fallback for situations where you need to be quiet, or are unable to speak.


Looking for a niche topic you can talk about for your next (virtual) dinner party? Need a “fun fact” to spice up your dating profile? Dive deep into these random topics for something completely different.

Star Trek: Inspiring Culture and Technology – edX

1-3 hours/week, 5 months

This three-part course will turn skeptics into Trekkies, and give enthusiasts the chance to look at their fandom through an academic lens.

Dog Behavior: Problems and Solutions – edX

Learn some things about your furry friend with an online course. Image credit: hobo_018/iStock
Learn some things about your furry friend with an online course. Image credit: hobo_018/iStock

4-10 hours/week, 3 weeks

Now that you’re spending more time at home, take the opportunity to learn what makes Fluffy tick and how you can get Fido to stop eating your shoes.

Sharks! – Class Central

4-6 hours/week, 4 weeks

Sharks are among the most interesting and misunderstood animals. Complete this course and you’ll never watch Jaws the same way again.

Backyard Meteorology: The Science of Weather – HarvardX

3-5 hours/week, 6 weeks

Let’s be honest, we all spend way too much time discussing the weather, so you might as well make sure you actually know what you’re talking about. This Harvard course has you covered.

Becoming the next Bill Nye: Writing and Hosting the Educational Show – Youtube

22 videos (plus extras), planned for 13 days but self-driven

Have you already taken all these courses and now want to pass on your knowledge in an entertaining way? They may use some outdated effects in the MIT course (it’s from 2016), but all the principles are just as relevant today.


Marlys Klossner

Marlys, a journalism major from Canada, now calls Germany home. She spends her days writing punchy copy and lovely long-form articles, and spends her evenings watching so-bad-it's-bad reality TV. Her prized possessions? Medals from her days as a synchronized swimmer.